Royals squander chances as Rebels win
That sound you heard Tuesday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre was the Victoria Royals probably falling out of the Canadian Hockey League top-10 for the first time in eight weeks when the new rankings come out today.
With it will come a growing chorus of whispers that maybe the Royals aren’t as good as their start to the season suggested.
The previously-reeling Red Deer Rebels snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-3 WHL victory over the Royals, who squandered a 3-2 third-period lead at home. The Royals (14-17-1) have now lost two consecutive games for the first time this season.
“Unacceptable and fundamentals,” said Royals head coach Dan Price, in his terse description of the loss.
“There was poor execution of fundamentals in the third period, especially regarding shooting versus passing on the power play and back checking and defensive zone coverage. That’s a tough lesson for the players in front of their home fans.”
Regan Nagy put the Royals ahead 3-2 with his 17th goal of the season at 5:15 of the third period on one of the few times Victoria shot on the power play rather than engage in needless over-passing.
“It’s obviously not good enough. We have to learn from this,” said Nagy.
The first period was scoreless after Royals forwards Ryan Peckford, Matthew Phillips, Dante Hannoun and Tyler Soy all fanned on what looked to be sure goals. That finishing touch, which elevated the Royals to being the highest-scoring team in the league, has vanished faster than Victoria sunshine.
The Royals also lost 4-1 Saturday to the Vancouver Giants in a game they dominated in shots but in which they could not produce goals.
“My line could have had eight or nine goals tonight,” said Calgary Flames-prospect Phillips.
“We got some chances that usually go in. In the last two games, they just didn’t go in. It’s unlucky. You want to see those go in but it’s not the end of the world. We can’t get too frustrated and dwell on it because that turns to negativity. It’s early [in the season]. We’ve got a couple of days to turn it around and take ownership of it and push ourselves.”
Three unanswered goals to end the third period by Red Deer won it. The fine forward Mason McCarty made it 3-3 at 12:18 and then assisted on Reese Johnson’s game winner at 14:52. Lane Zablocki put it away with an empty-netter.
A Jeremy Masella turnover allowed Red Deer’s Austin Pratt to open scoring at 3:02 of the second period followed by some more lax Victoria defensive play to allow the Rebels to go ahead by two on Kristian Reichel’s goal. Phillips finally solved goalkeeper Riley Lamb to pull Victoria to within one goal later in the middle period.
Victoria levelled 2-2 when Jared Legien took an astute headman pass from Eric Florchuk to slide it in at 2:07 of the third period.
It doesn’t get any easier for Victoria, who must now attempt to snap out of their malaise in Spokane on Friday night against a Chiefs team that now has Kailer Yamamoto back from the Edmonton Oilers. That is followed on Saturday with a game in Tri City against the CHL top-10 ranked Americans.
The Royals’ Tyler Soy takes a shot on Red Deer Rebels’ goaltender Riley Lamb as Jack Flaman, left, dives to try and block the shot during their WHL game at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Tuesday.